Kowloon is a city in Hong Kong. It’s home to rich culture and beautiful landscapes such as the Kowloon Park and various Hong Kong historic museums. Here, we’re going to take a look at two well-celebrated festivals held annually, the Monkey King Festival and the Mid-Autumn or Moon Cake Festival. Both festivals are held during the fall months and are scheduled around the Lunar calendar.
Monkey King Festival
The Monkey King festival is inspired by the monkey Sun Wukong, a mythical creature in Chinese Folklore that was created by Chinese Novelist Wu Cheng’en during the Ming Dynasty. The novels explore Tao concepts such as immortality as well as rebirth in Buddhism. The story follows a man named Xuanzang. He’s a Buddhist monk that was terrorized by bandits and demons until he visits India. So, he wouldn’t travel alone, the monk was accompanied by his two friends, Pigsy, Sandy and Sun Wukong the Monkey King. After a while, they all return to China, Buddhist teachings in tow. The story has become cemented in Chinese culture as time has passed. Statues and temples were built to honor Wukong and his birthday was given a date of celebration; it is New Year’s Day.
The festival itself involves lots of burning incense and paper offerings. In Kowloon, guests attend the Sau Mau Ping and depict the battle between other gods the Sun Wukong. Three men participate in this reenactment; one is chosen to represent the Monkey King and wields a sword. He jumps wildly about the stage, demonstrating a martial art. The man continues his demonstration as the incense burns; when it's burned completely, he falls to the ground. Other reenactments, has a single medium possessed by WuKong. They run across hot coals and climb a ladder made of knives. These tasks require much skill, as WuKong was never injured by such things.
No one really knows when the mid-autumn festival began. It’s been celebrated since the Shang Dynasty. Some historians theorize that the festival began with early Hakka peoples worshipping the Mountain Gods when the harvest was over. The worshiping of the moon, which is an important aspect of the mid-autumn festival as it’s also known as the moon festival, is based on old stories about the moon and the sun. Some Ancient Chinese, such as the Zhuang People, believed the sun and the moon were together and birthed the stars. Every month, the moon would become pregnant and as it warned, it birthed more stars. This also signaled a time of rejuvenation and rebirth.
During the festival, the lanterns are hung to signify the festival itself. Tradition shows that riddles are written on the lanterns and others who see them try to guess the answer. No one knows why it is done, but the lanterns have come to mean the mid-autumn festivities are underway. Moon cakes are another symbol of the festival but carry its own personal meaning as well. It signifies reunion and completeness, because of this, it is customary to give mooncakes to friends and families.